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Christian Morality. Section 2: Honoring God. Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry . The first three Commandments are all summed up with the theme of loving and honoring God. To lead a Christian moral life, one must put their faith in God alone.
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Christian Morality Section 2: Honoring God
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • The first three Commandments are all summed up with the theme of loving and honoring God. • To lead a Christian moral life, one must put their faith in God alone. • In our society, we are tempted to discard the First Commandment that says “I am the Lord, your God, and you shall have no other gods beside Me.”
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • The First Commandment is the primary basis for our own happiness in this life. • One cannot say they love God, yet worry about accumulating wealth, doing whatever it takes to be the best, or doing whatever they want, for it is then that our God is not God the Father, but us ourselves. • Theological virtues are the name for the virtues of faith, hope, and love, which allow us to know and be in communion with God, heart and mind.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • Failure to embrace the gifts and virtues of faith, hope, and love can turn to ignoring the First Commandment. • If we do not put our trust in God, then we do not accept the truths of Tradition, Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church. • Hersey is the conscious and deliberate rejection of a dogma of the Church.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • Sins of doubt, despair, and presumption can all occur if we do not follow the First Commandment and place our trust in God alone. • To hate God is to deny Him and all His goodness; that we do not need God because we are in control of our own life. • We should nurture our relationship with God then in faith, hope, and love as a community of the Body of Christ in Mass, in prayer, and in the silence of our hearts.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • When we adore God, we acknowledge God as the Creator of all life, holiness, and the universe. • We adore God especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. • Prayer is the primary mean through which we can strengthen our relationship with God such as through praise, thanksgiving, intercession, petition, meditation, and contemplation.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • We can nurture our relationship with God when we sacrifice of ourselves, such as spending time with the sick or elderly, fasting on Fridays during Lent, etc. • We must keep promises we make to God, such as at Baptism when we promise to renounce Satan and all his evil works. • Some people promise to God a tithe, or a commitment to donate a tenth of their income to the Church or charity.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • Some people make promises to live as consecrated brothers and sisters, driven by evangelical counsels, or the call to go beyond the minimum rules of life, such as the 10 Commandments and the Precepts of the Church, and strive to spiritual perfection through a life of chastity, poverty, and obedience. • When we make promises to friends, we keep them; if we make promises with God, how much more should we keep those promises then with the One who created us.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • Idols can be people or things that are looked upon as a god or loved in excess. • The First Commandment focuses on the sin of idolatry, or the worship of a creature, being, or material good in a way fitting for God alone. • The Israelites were surrounded by idolatry when they were in slavery and when around the Canaanites.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • The Israelites worshiped the gods of Baal, the Canaanite god of rain and vegetation, and Asherah, the Canaanite god of love and fertility, when they fell away from worshipping the one true God. • The Israelites, simply put, struggled with monotheism, or the belief and worship of one God, as opposed to polytheism, the worship of many gods. • The Israelites worshipped the gods of people around them as a precautionary step, just in case they chose the wrong God to worship.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • Some of the worship rituals of these gods broke other commandments, such as having sex in temples and child sacrifices. • God however remained with His people, even though there were consequences, until the Israelites learned the wrongfulness of their ways. • We, as Catholics, venerate saints, sacred objects and sacred images; we adore God alone.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are all monotheistic faiths. • Even so, idolatry still takes place today amongst people of these religions, not like in the past with ancient gods, but with temptations of wealth and power. • Jesus said no person can serve two masters: one master being God, the one we are to serve, the other being whatever we may deem more important than God.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • When we pursue things, neglect friends, family, and God because we are busy, or cheat to make ourselves the best, we are serving a master other than God. • Idolatry is strongly connected with obsessions and addictions, such as drugs, sex, food, shopping, etc. to make us happy when in reality, these things only bring temporary joy; God brings the fullest joy. • When things steal away your focus, affect relationships, or take over God in your life, you are in the beginning stages of possible idolatry.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • Sins against the First Commandment outside that of Christianity usually falls into two categories: • Sinful excesses of religions (irrational basis) • Irreligion (outright rejection of religions) • Superstition is attributing to someone or something else power that belongs to God alone and relying on such powers other than God. • Making the sign of the cross before an at bat during a game is a superstition that God will somehow intervene in you hitting a homerun; you may and you may not, but if you do, its because of God’s gift to you, not because He favors your team.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • Magic is the belief in supernatural power that comes from a source other than God. • Believing in devices or spell books are serious sins against God since one believes they have power to control what only God can control. • Divination is the practice of seeking knowledge through supernatural means apart from God. • Palm reading and astrology are types of divination that call upon the dead or stars to somehow tell us our future, when our future is only known to God.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • While those are types of excesses of religions, the following are sins of irreligion. • Sacrilege is an offense against God of a person, place, or thing dedicated to God and the worship of Him. • Simony is buying or selling spiritual goods, such as grace, a Sacrament, or a relic. • Televangelist who promise to send you a miracle handkerchief for $19.99 are committing simony.
Part 1: The First Commandment: Faith, Not Idolatry • Atheism is the denial of the existence of God, which is a serious and common problem of our time. • Atheism is the ultimate violation of the First Commandment, since it denies that anyone needs the love of God, who created us all. • Agnosticism does not declare there is no God; instead, it says it is impossible to prove God’s existence.
Part 2: The Second Commandment: Reverence, Not Profanity • The Second Commandment, “Thou shall not take the Lord’s name in vain,” is not just about cursing, but about the reverence due to God. • God’s name is sacred, meaning it has the quality of being holy, worthy of respect and reverence. • We practice reverence in Church, during Mass, before the Sacred Communion, and also outside of Church when we respect creation, which reveals the wonder of God to us, and respect others since all people are made in God’s image.
Part 2: The Second Commandment: Reverence, Not Profanity • The opposite of reverence is profanity, or speaking disrespectfully about something that is sacred and treating it with disrespect. • Profanity is more than just cursing; it is disrespecting things that we owe reverence to. • Profanity is one way of “missing the mark” of life’s goal that we spoke about when defining what sin is.
Part 2: The Second Commandment: Reverence, Not Profanity • In the Bible, a person’s name carried great meaning, sometimes identifying a special attribute, or bearing great meaning to a family. • To cause harm to one’s name in misuse means to do harm to the person. • God shared His name with Moses, the name of Yahweh, showing the trust He had in Moses and the Israelites. • To use God’s name in vain is to not only disrespect His name, but all God is.
Part 2: The Second Commandment: Reverence, Not Profanity • Using other names, such as the name of Mary or of the saints, in vain is a sin as well. • We lose the awe that each name carries when we use them in vain, making people that are sacred nothing more than ordinary beings. • Every person’s name is sacred before God and calls us each by our names to follow Him. • God gives our names sacredness in His sight, us ordinary people, and so we too must do so much more for the name of God.
Part 2: The Second Commandment: Reverence, Not Profanity • We are the most free after we make a commitment when it comes to spiritual life. • People think freedom to do whatever they want actually makes them free, but with so many different choices to pick from, we leave and try so many different doors that in the end, we spent more time opening different doors than going through one and actually accomplishing something lasting. • Only when we commit to a cause, ministry, or person can we live a life that God has intended for us.
Part 2: The Second Commandment: Reverence, Not Profanity • The Second Commandment calls us to keep our promises we make in the name of God, to open one door, go through it, and not look back, but achieve something since we vowed to God that we would. • Tribes in the Old Testament’s time made covenants, or agreements, between one another and called upon the gods to witness the covenants, so if one tribe broke it, the gods would punish them. • A covenant is a solemn agreement between human beings or God and humans in which commitments are made.
Part 2: The Second Commandment: Reverence, Not Profanity • The original meaning of the Second Commandment then was to protect all vows, sacred oaths, and covenants made in the name of God by not taking covenants “in vain.” • Jesus says we should be truthful and honest when we say “yes” or “no,” and should not need to swear on God or anything sacred to show we are truthful. • We use oaths today, such as when a witness in court is sworn on the stand and say they will tell the whole truth “so help me God.”
Part 2: The Second Commandment: Reverence, Not Profanity • Breaking such oaths implicates God in our failure and lies. • Vows are taken in the name of God in the Sacraments, such as in Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, and Holy Orders. • We may promise God during Lent to give up chocolate for the entire liturgical period, yet if we break this promise, it is not as serious as breaking a vow of poverty, chastity, or any commitment made in the Sacraments. • Promises help us grow closer to God when we keep them.
Part 2: The Second Commandment: Reverence, Not Profanity • Far worse than a casual curse is using God’s name or any sacred person’s name in an intentionally offensive way. • Blasphemy is speaking, acting, or thinking about God, Jesus Christ, Mary, or the saints in a way that irreverent, mocking, or offensive. • Saying God wants us to kill other people is blasphemy against God since God would never want that, yet is used as the blame for such sinful actions.
Part 2: The Second Commandment: Reverence, Not Profanity • In Jesus’ time, blasphemy was a sin punishable by death, and actually was what Jesus was accused and condemned to death on. • Jesus did things the Israelites considered only God had the ability to do, such as forgive sins, leading to accusations of blasphemy. • Perjury is the sin of lying while under oath to tell the truth, such as when a person lies in court on the witness stand after swearing on God to tell the truth.
Part 2: The Second Commandment: Reverence, Not Profanity • Examination of Conscience is a prayerful reflection or one’s words, deeds, and attitudes in light of the Gospel of Jesus; this is done in preparation for the Sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation. • Lying under oath is a serious sin against God and if we do, we must confess such sins by examining why we lied when we promised before God to tell the truth. • A false oath to God calls God to be witness to a lie, when God is “the way, the truth, and the life.” • The Second Commandment calls us to keep holy those things that are holy.
Part 3: The Third Commandment: Preserving Holiness • The Third Commandment tells us to “keep holy the Sabbath Day,” the day of rest and worship for He who created the entire universe. • The Bible traces the Sabbath Day back to creation, since the Sabbath is the seventh day on which God rested after work on Creation was completed. • Sundays are the Catholic Sabbath because it is the day on which Jesus rose from the dead.
Part 3: The Third Commandment: Preserving Holiness • The Sabbath is a day when man and woman are to refresh and renew themselves since we were not made just to work; we were created to be in communion with God. • Jesus says “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” • The Israelites, whose Sabbath is on Friday evening and ends on Saturday evening, are called to remember the Sabbath because of their liberation from slavery in Egypt.
Part 3: The Third Commandment: Preserving Holiness • Jesus healed the sick on the Sabbath, a sin since work is not allowed on the Sabbath by Jews, to show He is Lord even on the Sabbath and that the Kingdom of God was at hand. • Keeping the Sabbath also recalls the sacred covenant between God and man, the Old Covenant and Law stating to keep the Sabbath holy as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to man. • Man now must return that faithfulness by keeping the Sabbath.
Part 3: The Third Commandment: Preserving Holiness • Pharisees challenged Jesus and His disciples for breaking the laws on the Sabbath, while Jesus focused on the Commandment’s true meaning. • The Church today gives us some basic laws to keep the Sabbath holy: • Attending Sunday Mass and all Holy Days of Obligation • Abstain from work that prevents relaxation or going to Mass • Devote time to friends and family in rest and leisure
Part 3: The Third Commandment: Preserving Holiness • For Jews, the Third Commandment reads, “Keep holy the Sabbath day,” while for Christians it is “Keep holy the Lord’s day.” • Jews observe Friday evening to Saturday evening as a day for the Sabbath since in the Creation story it says “evening came and morning followed, the first day,” implying day begins at sunset. • Jews celebrate a special meal, synagogue services, and leisurely activities during their Sabbath.
Part 3: The Third Commandment: Preserving Holiness • The first Jewish Christians broke from the Sabbath on Saturday and made it Sunday because of the Gospel’s account that Christ rose after the Sabbath, on Sunday. • Christians saw Sunday as a day of God’s “new creation” through Christ’s glorious Resurrection. • Thus the Sabbath went from the last day of the week on Saturday to the first day of the new creation in Christ, Sunday (sometimes called the Eight Day since God ushered in a new beginning in salvation history).
Part 3: The Third Commandment: Preserving Holiness • Christians can keep holy the Lord’s day by celebrating the Eucharist at Mass, performing works of service and charity, and taking time to relax, pray, and enjoy the gift that is life God gives us all. • It is important to go to Church, as opposed to staying home and praying, on Sundays because it is the one time each week we can come together as a community of people with one heart and voice raised to God. • This has been the practice of the Church since its earliest days of existence.
Part 3: The Third Commandment: Preserving Holiness • It is good to pray at home of course, but one day a week we are asked to come to God’s home, the Church, to His table, as if we were invited over to a friend’s house for supper. • It is important to spend time around others of our faith, to help, serve, and friend one another, like we spend time with our friends from school. • The most important reason, however, for going to Mass on Sunday is to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, our spiritual nourishment.
Part 3: The Third Commandment: Preserving Holiness • We can perform works of charity and service for one another on Sundays, such as: • Take someone to Church who cannot drive • Visit or just call an elderly friend, neighbor, or family member • Volunteer time to serve a meal to the homeless • Visit someone in the hospital • Surprise a friend or family member by doing a good deed for them
Part 3: The Third Commandment: Preserving Holiness • The original, primary goal of the Third Commandment is to rest from the week’s work, to make time for God, family, and friends. • If you cannot avoid working, trying making another day, like Saturday, your Sabbath day to God, while still going to Mass Saturday evening or Sunday morning. • Positive and uplifting actions, like taking walks, napping, or reading are some leisurely activities.
Part 3: The Third Commandment: Preserving Holiness • We should never make someone work on a Sunday if we are in such a position; doing so is a lack of respect for God and one’s neighbor. • We all need a day off from our long week of arduous studying, homework, practices, scrimmages, games, and all other things that occupy our time. • Sunday is a day of renewal, of blessing, written on the hearts of man and woman to find God and one another in our lives over and over.
Part 3: The Third Commandment: Preserving Holiness • Eschatology is the area of Christianity having to do with the end times. • Sundays foreshadow what the life after death will be like in Heaven if we keep the Lord’s day holy. • Heaven will be a place of peace, rest, and full of God’s goodness, love, and glory.